into Africa

Track­s4Africa map set made for the in­trepid ex­plorer

RISKSA Magazine - - ASSETS - An­ton Pre­to­rius

It’s now the third time you’ve heard that lion roar. Each time the sound seems closer and you can taste the sweat bead­ing on your up­per lip de­spite the night- time chill. In­side the car the icy evening air is matched by your wife’s de­meanour. A glance in the rear view mir­ror shows the chalk- white face of your el­dest look­ing back at you ac­cus­ingly. Sav­ing that few hun­dred Rand by not up­dat­ing your GPS mapset was not your smartest move, and con­se­quently miss­ing the turn- off to camp af­ter night­fall has el­e­vated you from Moremi ex­plorer hero to zero in your fam­ily’s eyes.

Us­ing up­dated maps while trav­el­ling through Africa can quite lit­er­ally mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death. The new Track­s4Africa GPS mapset – de­signed specif­i­cally for the avid African trav­eller – is all you need to stay on the not- so- straight and nar­row on your next ad­ven­ture. Driv­ing through Africa has got to be one of the most re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in the world. The ad­ven­ture cou­pled with the free­dom to travel on your own sched­ule is a spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence. Ad­ven­ture, how­ever, by its very na­ture, is closely as­so­ci­ated with dan­ger, un­cer­tainty and risk. With sev­eral dan­gers lurk­ing on the roads, you need nerves of steel, cat­like re­flexes and a good nav­i­ga­tor. If there’s one thing worse than driv­ing through 200 kilo­me­tres of car- eat­ing pot­holes and sui­ci­dal cat­tle, it’s driv­ing the same road back again in the dark be­cause you’ve gone the wrong way. In or­der to cre­ate a re­li­able GPS map, the Stel­len­bosch- based cre­ators of Track­s4Africa ( T4A) have com­piled GPS date col­lected from ex­pe­ri­enced 4x4 trav­ellers. T4A has taken to the task of “mak­ing Africa vis­i­ble” with im­pres­sive suc­cess. What started as a com­mu­nity of in­trepid ad­ven­tur­ers shar­ing re­mote GPS co­or­di­nates has be­come the ul­ti­mate trav­eller’s re­source. This avail­able data can fit into the palm of your hand in the form of a SD card and is largely re­garded as the most ac­cu­rate in Africa. But who will ben­e­fit the most from the Track­s4Africa GPS mapset? Ac­cord­ing to T4A di­rec­tor Jo­hann Groe­newald, T4A will ap­peal to any self- drive tourist in Africa. “The maps may over­lap with con­ven­tional city maps, but it is packed with points of in­ter­est ( POI) rel­e­vant to self- drive trav­ellers. Fur­ther to this it ex­tends into the re­mote ar­eas of Africa, but again, where it ap­peals to trav­ellers. We like to call this the Trav­eller’s Africa.” Groe­newald adds that roads and tracks are in­cluded via GPS record­ings from fel­low trav­ellers. “This would im­ply that if you study a map by num­bers, it will not look im­pres­sive when com­pared to other map mak­ers, but when you test drive the map in real con­di­tions, you will find that it pro­vides the kind of in­for­ma­tion that you’ll need on the road.” Track­s4Africa is also packed with quirky de­tails about things and places you would very sel­dom find on a con­ven­tional map. How­ever, apart from the map con­tent it­self, an­other cool fea­ture is the abil­ity to tog­gle be­tween a city map and the Track­s4Africa maps. Groe­newald continues: “Self- drive trav­ellers have a hi­er­ar­chy of needs from a nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, like where do we sleep tonight; where do we find fuel and re­lated auto ser­vices; where do we buy sup­plies or get some­thing to eat or drink; what can we see and do here ( think any­thing from a wa­ter­hole in Kruger to the King’s Sum­mer Res­i­dence in Zam­bia); and where do we go in case of emer­gency? T4A will an­swer all these ques­tions for you. “An­other fea­ture that will ben­e­fit users is a route cal­cu­la­tion set­ting which al­lows you to avoid four- wheel- drive tracks. The de­fault use of Track­s4Africa is to in­clude these tracks, but we can see the ad­van­tage of be­ing able to avoid these in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions,” Groe­newald says. Jaguar Land Rover South Africa is one of the first auto man­u­fac­tur­ers to rep­re­sent an in­dus­try first as a fac­tory- fit­ted in­te­grated sys­tem, com­bin­ing the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of Track­s4Africa with a so­phis­ti­cated on- board unit us­ing hard­ware that al­lows for SD card soft­ware and map up­dates. The re­sult is the very best of satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion whether you’re trav­el­ling on dirt or tar­mac. Landy driv­ers are the first to ben­e­fit from in­te­grated satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion with ex­ten­sive maps across 22 sub- Sa­ha­ran African coun­tries. This makes ex­plor­ing Africa that much sim­pler for fear­less ad­ven­tur­ers, min­imis­ing travel time, dis­tance and im­prov­ing safety – even when trav­el­ling to the most re­mote des­ti­na­tion on the con­ti­nent. “Land Rover is an iconic brand as­so­ci­ated with ad­ven­ture and Africa and we’re very priv­i­leged that Jaguar Land Rover SA has de­cided to make use of our maps. I think the team at JLR can be com­mended for be­ing the first ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer to have taken this step and we cer­tainly hope that its cus­tomers will ex­pe­ri­ence added value in a pack­age that is al­ready hard to beat,” says Groe­newald. T4A pro­vides ac­cess to a net­work of around 720 000 kilo­me­tres of nav­i­ga­ble roads in Africa. This rep­re­sents 90 per cent of the roads ever trav­elled by self- drive tourists in Africa, cat­a­logu­ing thou­sands of points of in­ter­est

along the way. For ex­am­ple, in An­gola it maps nearly 20 000 roads and tracks, and de­tails more than 2 500 points of in­ter­est. This is grow­ing all the time thanks to the user­driven in­ter­face of T4A. The African ver­sion pro­vides turn- by- turn di­rec­tions from Cape to Cairo. How­ever, be warned, the maps do not of­fer wall- to- wall cov­er­age – only map places that are rel­e­vant to trav­ellers. An­other thing to keep in mind is that T4A GPS maps are com­pat­i­ble with Garmin de­vices only. T4A of­fers an ac­cu­rate list of pro­tected ar­eas such as na­ture re­serves in Africa. T4A GPS Maps will take you any­where on the con­ti­nent, sport­ing a com­pre­hen­sive set of tourist des­ti­na­tions, whether it’s the Hole in the Wall in Transkei or re­mote ar­eas of the Kgala­gadi. You don’t have to buy them all at once; sim­ply make a se­lec­tion of the re­gions or coun­tries you’re in­ter­ested in. As well as South Africa, Track­s4Africa em­braces coun­tries like An­gola, Botswana, Le­sotho, Malawi, Mozam­bique, Namibia, Swazi­land, Zam­bia and Zim­babwe. Ven­tur­ing fur­ther north, the same level of cov­er­age is avail­able in Bu­rundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tan­za­nia and Uganda, with cov­er­age of ur­ban ar­eas in coun­tries like Benin, Ghana, Sene­gal, Togo, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.

A part­ner­ship with Land Rover

Ac­cord­ing to Groe­newald, the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem will be rolled out in all Land Rover and Range Rover mod­els equipped with a nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem. “It made sense to stan­dard­ise the pack­age for all mod­els,” he says. The soft­ware is pro­vided by NNG from Hun­gary which cus­tomised its iGO Primo soft­ware to be in­te­grated into the Jaguar Land Rover en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem. The core nav­i­ga­tion func­tion­al­ity is easy to use and de­signed for ve­hi­cle- based nav­i­ga­tion. Some but­tons have been moved around a bit to fit in with the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem. “Work­ing with a big com­pany like Land Rover is not al­ways easy for a small out­fit like our­selves. The test­ing of the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem tran­spired into a trip to Khutse Game Re­serve in Botswana with my old Dis­cov­ery 2 Td5 and the boys from Soli­hull in a black Range Rover Sport. Ini­tially, I had my doubts about the choice of tyres, but all in all, we had a great time and I was im­mensely im­pressed with the Range Rover’s trans­for­ma­tion from sports car to off- road ve­hi­cle.” says Groe­newald.

What’s new on the T4A map?

T4A GPS Maps will be pre­loaded on a two gi­ga­byte mi­cro SD card with stan­dard adap­tor. The card also con­tains in­stal­la­tion files for PC and Mac users who want to in­stall the maps on their com­put­ers for trip plan­ning or trans­fer­ring maps to older Garmin units.

The map in gen­eral has seen a lot of cor­rec­tions in terms of road con­di­tions, fo­cus­ing on added data about sea­sonal roads in Namibia. In An­gola, the ma­jor roads be­tween Zam­bia and An­gola have now been mapped. On the Western Africa map, once again, a lot of data has been added, es­pe­cially in terms of pro­tected ar­eas. On the East Africa map, the new Nairobi north­ern by­pass road has been added. Morocco has also seen a ma­jor im­prove­ment. A lot of data has been re­worked to up­date the road types and many new towns have been added. Sup­port of Nüvi 2000 and 3000 ( ex­cept the Nüvi 3760) se­ries as well as the new Mon­tana se­ries has been con­firmed. Ac­cord­ing to the T4A’s web­site, there are un­re­solved is­sues on the 3760 and it is rec­om­mended that T4A not be used on this un­til fur­ther no­tice. But what if you’re just a bro­ker with an aver­age set of wheels and a burn­ing de­sire to ex­plore the rough edges of Africa? No sweat. Places like Botswana are wait­ing for those with­out 4x4s. These days you can sim­ply rent one. Just re­mem­ber to take your trusted map with you wher­ever you go. How to up­date your Track­s4Africa map set on your ve­hi­cle’s in­te­grated GPS sys­tem? T4A GPS Maps are avail­able on SD card for your Garmin- com­pat­i­ble GPS as well as your in- car nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem. Sim­ply down­load the lat­est T4A GPS map up­dates from T4A’s on­line store ( http:// track­s4africa. co. za/ shop) and load onto your SD card. T4A maps are up­dated ev­ery May and Oc­to­ber.

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